Conversational AI for Opticians

Real Test of Patience with Optician Practices

Imagine a patient is driving back home from the office, or he is in an adventure in the park with the kids and reminded of booking an appointment at the optician practice. But as he is away from a computer, the only option is to call, even though there could be other alternatives for booking an appointment with that practice. If lucky enough to call in the appointment-taking hours, after first or more attempts, a receptionist picks up the call. With her gentle voice she asks “Can I keep you on hold for 1 mins”? 3 minutes. 5 minutes. Ten minutes. Finally they hear a voice “Sorry! For keeping you on hold for this long”. The patient is then asked about all the details and hopefully booked with an appointment.

Result : Frustration. And he will probably have second thoughts booking with that clinic again.

The hunt for cognitive strategies in health care is on. In this modern age, you may have thought that emails or even social media posts have surpassed the phone, but in fact, approximately 80% of inquiries received by your business are more likely to be in the form of phone calls.

Every time the phone rings at your optician practice, you have a new opportunity to provide excellent customer service to your caller. Any call that comes into your private practice is a chance to increase sales by assisting a prospective or current customer. With too much riding on the ability to return phone calls on schedule, failure to do so is not a choice that you should seriously consider.

Regardless of how well equipped an optician practice may be, it is likely they are experience challenges in their business. Let’s examine the hurdles faced by them and the best ways to overcome them.

Handling Call Volume

On average, how many calls would you bet an optician practice receptionist handle a day? Between patient calls, new patients reaching out with queries, referrals from hospitals and eye clinics, test results from outside labs, and more. It is likely that your receptionist must be attending upwards of maybe 150 incoming calls a day. Often, your receptionist also handles outbound calls for consultations, follow ups, availability of lenses, and more. This means the receptionist stays on the phone for a good majority of the day as well as handling patients and medical vendors that enter through your doors. Your receptionist stays busy handling patient needs! Sometimes they have to stretch their working hours to more than 8 hours a day.

While they are answering the phone, it is important that they adhere to phone etiquettes. But the question is how far a person can maintain it after getting overwhelmed with that many calls in a day? The answer is “ Impossible” . Maintaining excellent phone etiquette helps to improve patient satisfaction and will help move the call along in a positive manner.

The diagram below clearly states that long call wait times and poor customer service goes hand in hand (source: YouGov report).

A waiting time longer than 10 minutes is considered to be poor customer service

Fielding Feedbacks

At the end of the day, your front desk receptionist takes the stress of the feedback from patients. These feedbacks would be usually negative ranging from long hold times, to waiting for the practitioner to start the test, to the quality of glasses or contact lenses received or the care shown during an appointment. For a receptionist these negative feedback can be a drain and for your business it’s a risk. But if you see many of these circumstances are not under your control. It is still beyond important for you to have empathy for the patient’s situation and to determine what can be the best way to address those remarks.

Missed Calls and Lost Revenue

If your practice is missing calls, you’re losing out on important opportunities. People still make phone calls if it is an emergency or if they are not around a computer. And if you are missing such calls, it delays patients who need care and prevents your practice from growing and remaining financially viable. Then, when a patient’s call is missed, one of three things happens for them(ordered from best to worse)

  • They get their query answered from a recorded message (e.g., your clinic hours)
  • Drop a voicemail
  • They hang up being frustrated and angry

Of these 3 things, #3 is clearly the worst. If a prospective new patient calls your practice but then gives up, you’re probably not going to hear from them again.

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  • According to a research, 74% of people are likely or very likely to choose another business after a negative call experience.

Of course, you or your staff does not intend to miss calls; it only happens because your practice is running hectic during the workday and then prohibitively expensive to staff at night or on weekends.

Costs that Come with Staffing and Adopting Technology

Sometimes a person who calls your practice and does not reach a human. This is unavoidable unless you staff your phone lines 24/7 (expensive and inconvenient), pay for a staff at a triage line (burns a hole in your pocket), or hire an answering service machine something like a voicemail.

For optician practices that are inundated with calls and other challenges, here is a solution that could help their receptionist decrease time spent on the phone, reduce call waiting time and help maintain efficiency, productivity, and healthy patient relationships.

Optician practitioner helping customers

Enter Conversational AI and improved Customer Service

Spike in call volumes require optician practitioners to take proactive approaches to identify solutions that can help patients with self-service. The obvious solution that comes into the picture is Conversational AI solutions which can include things like virtual assistants/chatbots, machine learning, and voice analytics. In today’s time Conversational AI can be deployed and adopted with speed and scale to help increase call volumes and transform overall patient experience without going heavy in pockets.

According to BID Research and ReportLinker, the global healthcare robotics market is predicted to reach $11.4 billion by 2023 and the market for artificial intelligence in healthcare has the potential to reach $36.1 billion by 2025.

So how Conversational AI will rescue your Optician Practice from such a crisis?

Better Patient Experience at a lower cost

Staffing a 24x7x365 your optician practice with human agents can be costly or impossible. When you add the resources required to support multiple lines of tasks and languages, it increases the headcount and skill sets required to serve patients around the clock. But with Conversational AI-powered receptionists you will reduce the number of front-desk staff required on your practice due to the repetitive nature of routine calls. All of these lead to significant cost savings.

Personalization

Your optician practice can collect customer data to deliver an unrivaled level of personalization to the patients. This can range from simple lens or glasses recommendations based on past purchases, to eye tests in real-time.

Personalization can greatly improve the patient experience, promote satisfaction, improve conversion to new patients, and drive business growth. Conversational AI can also help your staff at practice to have context to understand who they are talking to. Understanding their past consultation history, their purchase history , and what their experiences have been so far with your practice you will be well equipped to provide the best possible patient experience, tailored to your patient’ needs.

Self-Service Options

AI driven phone assistant are 3 times more efficient than a human assistant

The majority of Millennials who call optician practices avoid situations, which typically require a human interaction and long wait times and prefer to have self-service options instead. These tech-savvy Millennials prefer to book their own appointments, solve their own queries, either on a website, AI driven chat or AI driven phone call. Deploying Conversational AI solutions into your phone service can help these patients stay away from call waiting frustration.

No missed calls and more conversions

In addition to helping you elevate experience for current patients, Conversational AI solutions can act as an asset to your optician practice front desk and help with capturing new patients and miss no calls. With Conversational AI powered virtual receptionists at your front desk, your practice can respond to patients so quickly that they will continue to schedule an appointment with you and visit you as a potential customer.

Conversational AI will help you reach more leads quickly and efficiently. Some practices already use solutions for live chat on their website or on their Facebook business page to easily interact with patients and new leads — these AI platforms simply just allow you to take that patient engagement offering to the next step.

Introducing Swifter AI

As a Conversational AI platform , Swifter.AI has foresaw the inevitable integration of conversational AI and Big Data into healthcare and optician practices and offers conversational AI-powered virtual receptionists that would decrease call wait times, reduce costs and enhance patients experience.

If you are looking for a Conversational AI solution that could transform your optician practice in terms of patients experience and engagement? We can help. Contact us today!

Request a demo to explore how Swifter AI can help transform your healthcare operations and enhance patient engagement with Conversational AI.

Our 24/7 AI assistant is available over web chat, on Facebook Messenger™ or over the phone +44 (0) 1256588165.

https://swifter.ai

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Conversational AI for Opticians was originally published in Chatbots Life on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.